What is the right way to ask for online referrals for your business? How can you successfully drum up business online without coming on too strong? The key is to have guidelines for asking for referrals online:
1. Online, most of your effort should be on indirect referrals. A direct referral means actually asking someone to tell their friends about your company’s products and services. An indirect referral means getting someone to share your content–spontaneously–because the content is inspiring, novel, awesome and shareable. Most of the time, you will need to seek indirect referrals. Directly asking for referrals belongs on LinkedIn, but should be used sparingly in other online venues.
Indirect Referral: Put “share” buttons on your website, blog posts and emails. Add a subtle request such as, “Did you enjoy this post? Share it with your friends and colleagues.”
Indirect Referral: In your opt-in emails, ask them to forward the email to friends (consumers) or colleagues (business). “Do you have a friend or colleague who would also enjoy this newsletter? Please forward this link to them, so they can get these emails, too.”
Direct Referral: When you are close enough to a LinkedIn connection, ask them to refer you to likely leads.
2. Create shareable content. Make original content that inspires people to share it on social media. Find content from other sources that you can share. Offer coupons and discounts that are easy to pass along.
Example: Upload novel photos with captions to your Facebook page. Pay to promote the best-performing posts.
3. Make them happy. Give customers such great experiences with your company that they post positive reviews or recommendations on social networking sites. Provide value, and people will respond in a positive way. When customers are happy, they want to tell their friends.
Example: Implement a quality assurance program.
4. Time it. The best time to actually ask for a referral is when the person is engaged with your company.
Tell your customer service agents to ask raving fans to refer friends to your product or write a review on a site such as Yelp.
If a subscriber replies positively to your newsletter, gently ask them to forward a subscription link to friends.
The rules of marketing are constantly changing as the world becomes more connected online. Ask for referrals online to boost your bottom line.